A photo posted by @jenjive on

A photo posted by @jenjive on

A photo posted by @jenjive on

All photos by Mama. God, she’s gotten so big.

Date posted: August 24, 2016 | Filed under comparison, finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

I live in a field down by the river2009


Date posted: July 17, 2016 | Filed under comparison, finn | Leave a Comment »

Long-time readers here at IdiotCentral know I take a lot of pictures. Some of these photos show up on my Flickr feed, and a subset of those show up here. The rest are sitting on my server in the basement and also on a backup drive in my cabinet at work. As part of our Prime membership we get free photo storage too, so I started uploading the contents of my photo archive to Amazon in the spring.

Why is this worth mentioning? Well, I knew I’d taken pictures of the front of the house in the first years we lived here, but the idea of going through thousands of subfolders on the server to find them was unappealing. With Amazon, they’re all cataloged and displayed with low-res thumbnails, so I spent a total of 10 minutes paging back from 2008 or so to find a shot from 2004 on the day I painted the front of the house. This would be helpful to display a lineup of the progression of the house from the early days to this year. Behold:




Date posted: June 16, 2016 | Filed under comparison, house | Leave a Comment »

In 2003, Jen took me to explore a funky little settlement of buildings alongside the Patapsco River outside of Ellicott City, and we spent a couple of hours crawling around exploring them. I posted some pictures on my site, which longtime readers may remember.


Abandoned House 22015

Today, on our way back from a client pickup, I made a detour down that same street to see if Finn and I could find the house while the weather was warm. Nestled into the hillside under a sea of brambles, all of the structures still stand, worse for wear but intact. Finn and I climbed over nettles and under creeper vine until we were inside the main house, and her inquisitive nature took over. We started trying to figure out what the buildings were for, how long they had been there, and who had built them.

Abandoned House

I’m still unclear myself. The buildings are too small to be inhabitable, and there’s no evidence of insulation or interior finishing. The exteriors are all constructed with a high degree of quality. And the masonry alone must have taken years to plan and complete. Sadly, it was so overgrown, we didn’t see any of the riverstone decorations that were clearly evident 12 years ago.

Finley’s pretty sure there’s a chicken house and a donkey stall and provisions for other farm animals. I’m not as convinced, but somebody obviously had a vision for the place. I’d love to dig up photos of what it looked like in its prime.

Fall Finley

Date posted: November 15, 2015 | Filed under comparison, finn, history, photo | Leave a Comment »


Pretty girl

My lovely girl turned seven on Monday. With every day she transforms into the young woman I glimpse ahead of us: brave, mature, smart, and strong. And every day I see the little girl still inside: stubborn, mischievous, innocent, and curious. There are many, many days when I have to stop and remind myself how old she really is, that she’s not a fully grown adult yet, and give her the space to be a kid and make mistakes. But that’s hard when she splashes water out of the tub and creates a leak in the downstairs hallway ceiling.


Second Birthday

Mama and I have rented a pavilion at the tire park this weekend, and we’re going to have a small group of friends come for pizza and cake, let the kids play outdoors while it’s still warm, and get the last summer out of the summer.

I took Monday off this week so I could make three days of uninterrupted progress on the front walk. Saturday I broke out another 8 feet of concrete, moved it, and cleared the bed. Then I bought crushed gravel and sand, prepared the bed, and got about halfway done before the brick I was working with stopped fitting correctly. We inherited a mixture of different sizes and makes with the batch we got, and the first bunch I used was smaller, squared off stock that fit together pretty easily. As I kept pulling off the pile, the bricks got bigger and rounded off, and didn’t fit the pattern we started at the stairs.

Walkway, week 2

So I bought a masonry blade and started chopping them with my miter saw to finish the next section. On Sunday morning I knocked out the next slab of concrete, prepared the bed, and started cutting brick but by the middle of the day I knew I wasn’t going to make much progress: the blade just bounced off of some of the brick I was cutting. The wet tile saw that I rented from Home Depot made short work of the bricks I needed to finish, and by 3:00 on Monday afternoon I’d made my way through the rest of the remaining brick and returned the saw. The pile of brick shards I created was almost as high as the first load of concrete I hauled. The bad news is that we don’t have enough to make it to the front sidewalk; by my calculation we’re about 200 bricks shy. I’ve got enough to finish another 8 foot section, and then we have to go find some more salvaged stock to work with.

It appears that Volkswagen has completely shit all over itself for the last ten years in search of higher sales volume. Their strategy of selling decontented, unreliable cars and touting green diesel as an alternative to hybrid technology has been soundly debunked as fraud. I don’t know if this could be any worse for them or for diesel technology, which has never really recovered from the tarnished legacy of the 70’s, but I have a feeling things are only going to get worse for the company. What a colossally stupid decision.

Date posted: September 22, 2015 | Filed under comparison, finn, house | Leave a Comment »

Girl in Truck2009


Date posted: May 10, 2015 | Filed under comparison, finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

My final class is scheduled for next Monday, which is both a bummer and a relief. I’ll miss working with my students, but I won’t miss my adjusted schedule at all–and there’s a ton of work coming at WRI. There was also some shuffling around of classes last week, so I won’t be teaching the capstone class they had me scheduled for, but they swapped it out with a second-level typography class that sounds like fun.

* * *

We have a new front door as of yesterday! The old red steel door is gone, replaced with a new (faux) 6/6 windowed security door. It’s wonderful how much light comes in through the window now, and every time I came down the stairs this morning I thought the front door was open.

Before Door

After Door

* * *

Last night I went out for beers with some designer friends at the Judge’s Bench, as part of a long-delayed effort to get together, and it was a very good time. Five of us met up from different circles around the Baltimore design scene, and it was fun to put history and shared experiences together. It’s funny how much overlap we all have together.

* * *

I’m taking a long lunch this afternoon to walk up to the Capitol lawn with a 70-200 lens and a tripod to shoot some pictures: The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover is scheduled for today at noon and I’m right in the sweet spot: They are flying directly down the Mall, over the Capitol, and banking off to the south from there. If I’m on the north side of the lawn, I’ll be in perfect position to get some great shots.

Date posted: May 8, 2015 | Filed under comparison, friends, house, photo | Leave a Comment »



Family portrait
Thanksgiving 2014

Date posted: September 1, 2014 | Filed under comparison, family, photo | Leave a Comment »

Porch swing 3


Date posted: August 30, 2014 | Filed under comparison, finn, photo | Leave a Comment »


What better way to start off summer than with a date for tea with Mama and sushi for dinner with the family?


The weather in Columbia was perfect for walking around the lake, and we took full advantage of it.


Saturday was busy as well. We spent the day in the yard, cleaning up the hedge, weeding the garden, playing in the fort, and getting things done. In the afternoon we went up to our friend Jen’s ice cream party in the county, where we caught up with friends, chased bubbles, and enjoyed the sunshine.

On the way home we stopped off at Big Bad Wolf for dinner, something we don’t normally get to do given the location. Once we had sated our appetites with barbecue, we headed upstairs to start repainting Finn’s room.


Between the three of us, we got all but one wall done and cut in; we’ll hit the walls with the roller one more time and touch up the edges, but it’s almost done.

Hell Yeah
March 12, 2012

June 8, 2014

Date posted: June 8, 2014 | Filed under comparison, finn, photo | Leave a Comment »